Monday, 29 September 2014
The actress Maggie Stables, who played 6th Doctor companion Evelyn Smythe in the Big Finish audios, passed away Friday night, after battling a long illness.
Big Finish Executive Producer Nick Briggs commented on her passing:
'I met Maggie many years ago when we worked together on a national theatre tour of Jane Eyre, in which Maggie superbly played the sinister role of Grace Poole. After that, Maggie was instrumental in getting me a job in the Theatre Royal Nottingham Thriller season, recommending me to the late producer, Colin McIntyre.She, in my opinion, was the best 6th Doctor companion. I loved her stories and she and Colin had amazing chemistry that he simply never got a chance for on-screen. She will be greatly missed.
'I was keen to get her involved in the Big Finish audios, casting her as the gruff Ruthley in our very first Doctor Who release, The Sirens of Time. It wasn't long before my friend and producer Gary Russell spotted her and saw her as potential 'companion' material. Evelyn Smythe made Doctor Who history. The first, dare I say it, 'elderly' companion of the Doctor's. Maggie was superb in the role and she and her Doctor, Colin Baker, immediately hit it off. And even though Maggie appeared in two 'final' adventures for Evelyn, it was always our intention to continue working with her -- such is the advantage of time travel. I was very pleased to welcome her back for another trilogy in 2011.
'As a friend of Maggie's, I knew she had suffered and largely recovered from serious illness before that recording, but it was clear to me that she was still too poorly to continue with the rigours of studio work -- even though you would never have known from her great performance. Always the professional.
'Maggie was such a lovely, warm person who did a fantastic job of playing Evelyn. She was extremely popular with our listeners and always a delight to work with. I have many fond and sometimes raucous memories of working with her in Doctor Who and on stage. Unfortunately, my favourite Maggie anecdotes are far too naughty to repeat here. Suffice it to say, she had a very saucy laugh and a twinkle in her eye. Some of my warmest memories of her involve her sometimes shockingly blunt use of a put-down aimed at me... but it was always followed by that infectious laugh of hers.
'I shall always be grateful for the support and affection she gave to me and for all the laughs we shared along the way.'
Our thoughts are with Maggie's family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.
Saturday, 27 September 2014
Warning: This post contains spoilers related to tonights Doctor Who, as such please do not read on if you don't wish to have plot or character development information revealed. Please scroll down for other new Doctor Who content.
|'The Caretaker' - Series 8 Episode 6. Co-written by Gareth Roberts & Steven Moffat|
It's been twenty-six years since our last adventure in Coal Hill School and few things have changed. There's still alien threats, there's still a time-travelling alien walking around but this time he looks a bit different. 'The Caretaker' throws you right into the weird and wonderful life of Clara Oswald, part-time school teacher and part-time time traveller who's been desperately trying to keep her two lives separate, but when the Doctor's involved we know that can't last forever. The Doctor has finally come face-to-face with Danny Pink.
At face-value 'The Caretaker' is a very comedic story, which exists to progress the relationship between Clara and Danny which does unfortunately mean that in this story the Doctor has to take a back-seat and do his own thing off screen for the majority of the episode, but in a similar sense to 'The Girl Who Waited' his presence is felt throughout the episode, which I would argue means it worked rather well; I wouldn't say I'd like to see this every week though. It can be argued that there is no true plot of this episode and that the only focus is the characters, while that is partially true the episode wouldn't have worked as well without a form of threat that wasn't too demanding (it was missing ''in another time'' for half of the episode), only being used when needed - there is a plot, but it follows the characters and their development towards each other rather than an actual threat that needs 'fixing'.
Our first scene with this weeks monster, a Skovox Blitzer, takes place within an abandoned building frequented by Coal Hill students, or at least thats what the CSO thinks. From a visual point of view you instantly know that this can't end well and yet we're left visually wondering what will happen to the character, that's something that changes every week and we look forward to: Will they kidnap them? Will they kill them? Will they lose a limb? This week it's clear that death is the only answer on this robots mind (which seems to be a running theme of this series). Perhaps we should keep an eye out on minor characters this series...they all seem to be recruited, but for what? Missy, Gate Keeper of the Nethersphere has a plan...
"The anger of a good man is not a problem, good men have too many rules." The words of Madame Kovarian Echo throughout this episode with the doctors anger towards soldiers coming out even more than it has before, originally through sarcasm and then later on through worry. Despite the Doctor coming off as harsh and cold towards Danny and by extent to Clara, he does it out of concern for her and wanting to protect her from harm. The Doctor has a much shorter temper in this incarnation, whether this is warming to the fans is yet to be seen but it certainly will have given some fans in tonight's episode the cold shoulder. Danny is equally to blame for the Doctor's anger, wanting to show what he thought he could see in the Doctor to Clara, but playing a timelord against his Impossible Girl isn't going to get him to like you. Through redemption however it is clear that the Doctor is warming up to Danny Pink, but his trust for Clara has been reduced and I think this will become clear in future episodes of this series.
What is clear from this series is that Murray Gold is not at the top of his game, whether it's because of a smaller budget or because simply there's nothing original he can think of anymore, but this episode certainly is the best we've had so far for music scores. The 'Fish People' scene is one that sticks in mind, as well as a possible 'Danny's Theme' which does however sound like a slower and lower tone Amy's theme. Murray, what's happening man? Let's hope the second half of this series picks up.
During the final scene we get some more Doctor and Courtney scenes, something which I originally thought wouldn't work but honestly...it does. Peter Capaldi and Ellis George really play off against each other brilliantly and I can't wait for her in next weeks episode, Kill The Moon. Just when you thought the episode was over though we have yet another Moffat twist, that CSO that got burnt to death earlier? He's gone to the Nethersphere (or Heaven depending on your viewpoint), Chris Addison (who also starred with Peter Capaldi in The Thick of It) deals with this scene in a very mysterious way, which gets me really excited for his re-appearance later in the series with Michelle Gomez's character.
This episode certainly is my favourite of the series so far, focusing on the emotions and characters rather than the threat. It would be nothing without the humour, but with such a dark Doctor it's sometimes needed; this episode wouldn't of worked with Matt Smith's Doctor. There's no scariness or complicated plot - it's a simple and family episode, one that is as risky as 'Boom Town' and yet pays off just as well. I would give this episode 8/10.
Next Week: Kill The Moon. "Hello Earth, we have a terrible decision to make..."
Keep your eye out tomorrow for Guest Reporter Tony's in-depth review of tonights episode!
Katy Manning visited the TARDIS set earlier, after finishing shooting Casualty, and popped a few of her pictures up on her Twitter Feed, with a few comments. Here are the highlights. Go to her Twitter feed to see more.
|"What a truly wonderful moment ! Xxx "|
|"Peter Capaldi is not only a superb actor but one of the most charming men I have ever met & oh ! Those eyes "|
(While this review does not contain major spoilers or specifics, some minor things may be given away. It also draws your attention to hints in the episode. Read at your own discretion.)
This episode finally introduces Danny Pink to the Doctor, the TARDIS and Clara's real life as we re-enter the comedic side of the Doctor this series, which isn't a new approach for writer Gareth Roberts whose previous episodes include The Lodger, Closing Time and Attack of the Graske, among several The Sarah Jane Adventures episodes.
This episode is also, again, co-written by Steven Moffat which means it brings the usual surprises and controversies, such as the increasingly frequent religious mentions that we're seeing with his episodes.
For such a long-time fan as Moffat is, the amount of references in this episode is surprisingly low, just a mere one or two to the fact that he's been there before, which is disappointing to those long-term fans. We don't even get to see the school sign from the 50th, which had more on it than the entire episode. While normally this wouldn't be important, the fact that this episode was set at Coal Hill school is a huge draw of the episode to a lot of viewers who would be expecting a lot of things. These fans will be disappointed.
This episode puts aside the baddie for the majority of the episode and focuses on the trio of relationships we see. Like most episodes where the big baddie is put aside, it is surprisingly enjoyable despite absolutely nothing actually happening for a long while but once we get past this stage and return to the action, the pace picks up and it gets more exciting and fun to watch and the now "well....that was adequate" feeling runs away.
In the opening, we see the relationship between Clara and Danny suddenly jump from the dating every now and then to them as a couple, so much so that the kid's parents even know about it. This massive step is then offset by spending the entire episode introducing one man to another, which is quite offputting. Coleman and Anderson get plenty of material to play with here and pull it off without a hitch, with a massive range of emotions from both of them, with the Matt Smith lookalike plonked in there for rather obvious reasons, which is pulled off really well.
Due to the focus on Clara/Danny, Capaldi's role is very much shoved to one side and as such he manages to go too far and, for the first time, begins to get a little un-likeable as The Doctor. Being a bit of an arse to a child is one thing, but his unyielding view of Danny as a soldier is far too prejudiced for a character where one of the main draws of the entire show is how open minded he is. This is the same man who remembered enough about his past to mention being in a fight with River, but not about the Brigadier, whom he fought alongside for in many adventures, or Wilfred, a soldier who he gave his life for. As fun as his insults and confusion may be, they got old really fast.
While Murray Gold's music has been somewhat spotty this series, this episode is definitely one of the highlights of the series. It has, almost literally, everything in there, including what sounds like a theme for Danny Pink (although it sounds surprisingly like Amy's theme). Although we still lack a good, clear, solid 12th Doctor theme, but this could be the point?
While this episode is far from winning any awards and is basically a giant filler episode for introducing Danny and tying up some loose ends from the previous four episodes, with a lot of humour added to the first half, and a bit to the second.
It's clear that this episode lacks a proper plot, but rather just showing the introduction on TV because they can't just simply skip it and therefore must make a monster out of it to make it at least reasonably interesting. This is especially clear when the BBC decide to release a promotional picture showing how The Doctor defeats the episode's villain (not included in this review).
There's no deep-thinking. No real scaryness. Just a fun filler. It's a perfectly watch-able episode that you could watch multiple times, but wouldn't particularly want to. Think Time of the Doctor. Overall, I would rate this episode 5.5/10.
Friday, 26 September 2014
Thursday, 25 September 2014
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Over the course of this series we will be offering each week 10 teasers related to the upcoming episode.
10 Teasers for 'The Caretaker':
- "Ozzie loves the Squaddie"
- Doesn't he look like Matt Smith?
- "There's been a spillage"
- "Haven't you got shoplifting to do?"
- Policemen never have it good...
- "It's amazing, you see wonders"
- "She's a bit busy today"
- General welcome wink?
- Paper towels
- "Did you just flick my nose?"
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
"This limited edition collector's set includes the 50th anniversary special; The Day of the Doctor, Matt Smith's Farewell; The Time of the Doctor, the Series 7 finale; The Name of the Doctor, and the Eighth Doctor's (Paul McGann) surprise regeneration into John Hurt's War Doctor; The Night of the Doctor."
Ever since we heard about the BBFC clearing extra features relating to the 50th Anniversary episode we knew a set was on the way for us, we didn't quite know what to expect and to be honest, I'm slightly let down; I don't know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn't this.
Four blu rays, with content spread across each disc; three episodes and a special docudrama sound like it could be simple? Not quite... Each Disc 1-3 has the episodes in order (Name, Day and Time) which leaves Disc 4 to have the docudrama 'An Adventure in Space and Time' but then you question where do the extras squeeze in? With some minor adjustments it seems. The BBC published the artwork for this box set with '3D Blu ray' labelled on the box, and until its release made no effort to correct this, but when the box set arrived only a 2D version was included, something which has proven to be very disappointing to those who had already sold their vanilla blu-ray copies. This issue doesn't affect the DVD release, the 3D only is compatible with blu-ray discs.
Disc 1 is just simple, it features Name of the Doctor as well as behind the scenes footage and the extra 'Night of the Doctor' featuring Paul McGann. The BBC Three show 'The Ultimate Guide' is also included, it's a nice little recap of the last 50 years of Doctor Who but I'm sure there's much better things to have been included. Let's be thankful they didn't include 'Doctor Who Live: The After Party'.
Disc 2 is packed with extras though, featuring the 'Behind the Lens' extra currently on the BBC Doctor Who website, the short point-of-view minisode 'The Last Day', script to screen read through documentary and extended cinema introductions from Strax and the Doctor's. Trust me when I say that cinema introduction is worth the purchase alone - There's even more chin jokes.
Disc 3 features the Matt Smith's final episode and a handful of extras but they seem to be rather limited, we've been drastically limited on recent DVD and blu ray releases on extras, this isn't an exception. Only one deleted scene, lasting less than 30 seconds and it happens to be the same on that has been released on Youtube for months - great selection there again... We do however have the nice documentary with Brian Cox 'A Night With the Stars'. Disc 4 is a mess, I'm sorry but...it is. It doesn't have the same style, arguably, it shouldn't do but it just doesn't fit well with the rest of them. There is way too many extras in this disc, and yet it is possibly the pinnacle of the box set featuring 'An Adventure in Space and Time' on blu-ray for the first time in the UK and the great extra everyone has been wanting a release for - The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
The content of these discs are what you would expect. The journey from the Season 7 finale to the Christmas Special makes a logical choice and overall the packaging is a great concept (trying to resemble The Moment from Day of the Doctor) but it's flawed from the beginning; only featuring an opening flap at the top that over time will become torn or broken from continual use. From a collectors set I'd have expected better, it just seems like they've tried to cut costs by cutting corners.
This set is worth this money, but don't have any high hopes for excellent presentation. You get what you pay for and at £31.99 (£29.99 on DVD). 7/10.